Spain has topped the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s ranking of countries best equipped to welcome tourists in 2019.
The Mediterranean country, which has been named the most “travel-ready” nation by the WEF since 2015, was followed by France and Germany in the index. Japan and the United States rounded out the top five.
The United Arab Emirates was the most attractive Middle Eastern country, while Mauritius, in 54th place, was the highest-ranking country in Africa.
A total of 140 countries were included in the ranking, which the WEF publishes every other year.
The index was compiled by measuring 90 individual indicators in each country, which fell into categories such as environmental sustainability, health and hygiene, natural and cultural resources, and international openness.
However, in its report, published Wednesday, the WEF also warned that many countries were at a tourism “tipping point” — meaning surges in visitors threatened to overwhelm or damage the resources that attracted tourists in the first place.
This was particularly true for developing nations, the report said, calling for more work to be done by the tourism industry to help preserve cultural and natural assets.
One example of this was Thailand, the WEF said, where authorities were forced to close the famous Maya Bay cove after a rise in tourism caused extensive ecological damage to the area.